Friday, January 26, 2007

Names for my in-laws? Mom? Dad? Um, neither?

When you’re in the middle of preparing for a wedding, there are some technicalities that slip through the cracks. They’re small things that you never really think about until, oh, say, a year and four months into your marriage.

Eureka! What do I call my in-laws?

It hit me two weeks ago when I phoned my sister-in-law, and I found myself repeating “tell your Mom this…” or “I think your Mom …etc.” When I hung up the phone, I realized that, wait a minute – isn’t “your Mom” really my Mom, too? Technically, yes – by marriage. Technically, no – I have a Mom already.

It’s just one of those topics my husband and I never thought to sit down and discuss. He calls my parents by their first names, and I call his parents by their proper names. It’s as simple as that.

Often, when I’m addressing a birthday card or sending an e-mail to my in-laws, I have a tendency to write "Dear Mom and Dad," but then I always end up erasing it because it just doesn’t feel right.

So why is it an issue now? I do wonder if it’s disrespectful to my in-laws to call them by their first names, or if I should have broached this topic long before I married their son. The last thing I want to be is disrespectful – to my parents or his.

If only we had kids already, then I could just call them Grandma and Grandpa. But for now and with no bun in the oven, I think I’ll just stick to calling them by their first names.

Readers, by what names do you call your in-laws?


Chris said...

I am not married, but this has been a problem that has come up in my last two relationships. Gone are the old-fashioned talks where the father says "Call me Jim," or what-have-you.
I think in-laws have become passive now, and parents will accept whatever you would like to call them. This is a pain though for old-fashioned people like me who still wait for the parents to clarify.

Anonymous said...

I call my mother in law "mom" and my father in law by his first name.
It just feels like the right thing to do with both of them.

Anonymous said...

I call my mom, "mom", my mother-in-law "ma", my dad, "pop" and my father-in-law, "dad". It helps in the conversations with my husband that way he knows which one I am referring to (but after 12 years of marriage, he has started calling his dad, "pop").

Clay said...

My sister and my brother-in-law both refer to each others' in-laws by their first names when talking to them. For my sister, that means Dave and Beth; for my brother-in-law, that means Clay and Lou (and Gwen, my dad's second wife).

Anonymous said...

Here is one for you.
I was married to my ex-husband for almost 5 years but was with him for a total of 10. His mom and I connected immediately and became mother and daughter soon after we met (even before I married her son).
Now, we are divorced and are still close. He's remarried but I still call her Mom. The new wife? She calls her by her proper name.
For my ex-father-in-law, he is my daughter's grandpa so that's easy. He's grandpa! THe new wife also has a baby now. She still calls him by his proper name.

Talk about confusing? What do I do when I remarry????